“How do you know who it is that’s across from you? What they need, what they want. How you can take care of them, while also under stress and also trying to get a lot of work done. That’s where SIEF comes in.”

Continuing our theme of “Love the One You’re With.” Life is unpredictable, and people are certainly hard to predict. And the best way for us to show we care for Person A will not be the best way to make Person B feel cared for (especially if person B is an intensive and Person A is an expansive.) So if we try to meet everyone’s needs in a general, one-size-fits-all way, then no one’s needs will get met. And unmet needs are the root of resentment. But good news- SIEF is a tool we can use to understand the needs of the people around us a little better, which will help us get closer to the goal of meeting everyone’s needs, all the time.

Transcript and notes:


Recorded 12 February 2024.


Hey there. Thanks for tuning in.

We're talking about predictability this week. And, well, things aren't always as predictable as we'd like. My dear friend, Kate, ummm, died. She died a couple of days ago.

And I am not over it, nor am I expecting to be over it, nor am I even trying to be over it right now. But she was a podcaster. And so I feel like in some ways, putting good podcast into the world is one of the best ways I can remember her.

So this week, we're talking about predictability. And in my last episode, I talked about Tara McMullin's piece and how predictability and ritual and gimmicks are all close cousins. And today, I'm going to talk specifically about how SIEF can make the people across from us, the people that we're trying to love- the theme for February is "love the one you're with"- how we can make people a little more predictable.

And, you know, I tried already once to record this episode. And I had to stop because I was rambling too much, because I was thinking about Kate. And I think what I'm going to try and do instead is focus this for you on specifically, how do we- how do we make the people at work predictable in ways that are useful.

So let's imagine for a moment that you are an intensive, and you are a founder. And you have a team. You have a small team that you're trying to keep together. And let's imagine that your team is composed of both intensives and expansives. So you are overseeing the company. And then you've got maybe, I don't know, five, six, ten people underneath you directly who are helping you build out this new company.

And probably- probably one of your co founders, one of the early people on your team; a co founder, or employee number one or two- probably one of your early members is an intensive. Because we tend to be really excited about hiring intensives when we meet them. Because we feel like they get us, we get them, Tada!

And especially in the early, fast-moving days of a startup, it can be really useful to have another intensives onboard, because they won't try to get you to slow down. They'll go with your impulse, they'll go with your instinct, they'll understand how you're making decisions. If they disagree with you, they'll disagree loudly and immediately. And if they agree with you, they'll be 100% behind you. And that's how you're going to build this company.

But you realize pretty rapidly that you need expansive skill sets. And so you hire someone expansive. And what does an expansive do? An expansive keeps you on track. An expansive keeps you slow and steady and moving along at a reasonable clip.

And so you hire someone to- usually you hire someone for accounting or operations. To keep your books and that person turns out to be expansive. And that expansiveness is what allows you not to drop the ball right? Somebody calls for consults, somebody wants to collaborate, somebody wants to become a customer, they call up.

How do you make sure that they get a call back? Well, after the first little bit, your mind is elsewhere, you're developing a product, you're you're working on new sales. And so following up is not your strong suit. But you have is expansive and the expansive is great at that.

And so the expansive comes on board and says, Hey, okay, I'll make those phone calls back, I'll keep track, I'll put that stuff in a spreadsheet. I'll make sure our bottom line gets tracked. All of this stuff. So you bring on an expansive. And then you bring on a few more of each type. And next thing you know, you have a team.

And if you're lucky, the team is humming along nicely.

And then you notice there's a little bit of tension in what's happening because everything should be okay. But you're under a lot of stress. And so you're maybe not tending relationships as well as you'd like to. Or maybe you don't feel like tending relationships, because you're busy with this project, and you're hyper focused on it, and it's great.

But the problem is that those relationships are what's holding your ship together right now. That is what's holding your company together.

And so you start kind of throwing spaghetti at the wall trying to figure out how to make those relationships better. But it's not necessarily working.

And so how do you know who it is that's across from you? What they need, what they want. How you can take care of them, while also under stress and also trying to get a lot of work done. That's where SIEF comes in.

So if you've got an expansive you know that they need advance notice; they need a certain amount of predictability. They need to feel like you care about them, which means that they need the little social niceties that you're probably dropping because you're probably working at twice the speed of light.

They need you to say good morning, they need you say good night. They need you to send them a card on special occasions. They need that kind of tending. That's not superfluous. It's not extraneous.

I know, you think it's not important, but it is. It is. And you need to make sure that they feel like you are tending the relationship.

You also need to give them advance notice. As much advance notice as you can, given that it's a fast moving company. And if you can't give them advance notice, which you sometimes can't, then you need to apologize for the fact that you can't give them advance notice. You need to acknowledge that that's hard on them. And you need to do something to soften the blow.

So you might say to them, Hey, listen, I know I said yesterday that we were going to do X, but we're not going to be doing x, we're going to have to change direction. We're going to be doing Y instead. I'm sorry, I know that, you know, that rapid changes are not easy on you. And I promise that you can take Friday off to recombobulate, to spend some more time with your family.

But but we're going to need to do this, we're going to need to get this turned around first. And I know that that's not your favorite, but I really appreciate you putting in the time and energy for us. It's not a big deal.

It doesn't take you very long, that probably took me 10 seconds to say. But saying that makes that relationship stronger. It helps them feel cared for.

I know you care for them, but it helps them experience that care.

Meanwhile, the other intensives is disagreeing more and more with you. They have a different vision, they've started to get their their kind of traction in the company and they can see where it could go. And they're imagining something different from what you're imagining. The two of you need to do more imagining together.

You need to get together and brainstorm together. You need to imagine together. You need to spend more time engaged together in the process. You need to hash it out. You need to be willing to listen to their ideas and explain to them- intensives need to know why. You need to explain to them why your idea is better than their idea. You need to make room for that.

If they're your co founder, you absolutely have to do that. If they're an employee, and ultimately your decision is the decision that you go with, in order to not lose them, you need to keep bringing them along.

As you imagine things, as you understand things, you need to carry them with you. You don't necessarily have to do that with an expansive, you just need to give them a logical list of how things are going to be next. And then ideally, don't change it, if you can avoid changing it.

So you can hear how these two groups of people are different. And then you think about benefits, right? As you start to formulate as a company, you're going to start to think about benefits. And you're going to start to think about, okay, so what are we doing for our expansives?

For our expansives, we're going to try to give them guaranteed start and stop times on the day. That like come in at nine, leave at five. Get a one hour lunch, when you can go away from your desk. You have a five day week, there's very little overtime. We just don't ask that of expansives. Because it's disruptive to them.

Now, sometimes an intensive will need a fixed finish time. For example, they need to go get their kid, right. So sometimes intensives will also need that kind of stability. But in general intensives would rather have a lot of flexibility.

They want a key to the office, they want to be able to work whenever they want to work. They want to come in late, they want to leave early, they want to work, you know, 16 hours overnight. Because that's when they got inspired.

They want to come in at two in the morning because they suddenly had an idea and for some reason they can't do it from home on their laptop. Whatever it is. And then they want to be able to say listen, I have put in, you know, 25 hours in the last two days, I'm going to take the next week, the rest of the week off. And I'm only going to be here for these particular things that we're doing.

Giving them that flexibility, giving them that autonomy is going to make them so much happier, than expecting them to be there on a really rigid schedule. They don't usually want a rigid schedule. And it's okay to say, you know, sometimes you're gonna have to work overtime. Not all the time, you can't do that to them all the time, they will burn out.

But sometimes you're going to have to work overtime, and then we'll give you comp time afterwards. That's a perfectly good structure for a lot of intensives.

So knowing who's in front of you means knowing what they might want or need or feel appreciated by. Obviously, everybody likes a bonus.

Making sure that they have what they need, not just the technical tools to do their work, but the exact tools they need. So intensives are going to be like I need to have this particular Uniball stylo brand thing. Intensives are going to need that. Whereas expansives are going to be like I need a pen that works. Both of those are perfectly reasonable things.

It's not that one is better or the other is better. It's that people handle things to differently. People's needs are different, people's requirements are different. And when we give people what they need- really what they need, not just sort of what they need. Like, yeah, an intensive can function with any pen. But if you get them the pens they really like they're going to do better work. That's just how it is.

So when you're setting up, not just your structures, but your communication habits; your understanding of your staff and your team; your understanding of how your company's gonna get built out, your benefits packages- thinking in terms of is this an intensive or an expansive.

What does an intensive really feel appreciated by? Freedom, latitude, the ability to go all the way up and fix the problem at its origin.

What does an expansive really like? Structure, predictability. Knowing that they're just going to be doing the same kinds of things, that they don't have to think outside of that box.

That they're not expected to ideate outside of that container. Really useful, then they can just feel held, cared for, supported by their environment. By the company.

And when you set that up, and make that a part of company culture- make it inherent to the company that everybody's needs get met. That means that when your needs get met, nobody else is mad. And when other people's needs get met, you're not mad.

Because resentment has its origin in unmet needs. And unmet needs typically happen when we're trying to generalize too much when we aren't being specific enough about how we address the needs of the person in front of us. And that's what predictability allows us to do better, more smoothly, and with fewer fire drills.

I think that's all I have to say about that today. Thanks for tuning in. Talk soon.